Monk Fruit Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Momordica grosvenori fruits
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Monk fruit has risen to celebrity status as an alternative sweetener. Also called luo han guo, monk fruit is a small green melon that was cultivated for centuries by Buddhist luóhàn monks, hence, its name. Unless you live in a sub-tropical region near the mountains (the fruit is native to southern China and northern Thailand), it’s highly unlikely that the fruit will get to your locality in its fresh form. Much of the world’s monk fruit is still grown in its area of origin, and the fruit tends to spoil quickly after it is harvested.

But monk fruit sweetener products have become widely available. To make monk fruit sweetener, the skin and seeds of the fruit are removed. The fruit is then crushed and the juice is collected. Lastly, the juice is dried and turned into a concentrated powder.

Monk Fruit Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 packet (0.8g) of powdered monk fruit sweetener.

  • Calories: 0
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 0.8g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Protein: 0g

Carbs

Monk fruit powder is basically entirely carbs, but the amount contained in a one-packet serving wouldn't impact blood sugar levels. The sweetness in monkfruit comes from a compound called mogroside, a compound that may help maintain blood glucose metabolism, according to some in vitro and rodent studies.

Fat

Monk fruit sweetener is fat-free.

Protein

Monk fruit sweetener also does not provide any protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Although monk fruit itself contains vitamins, such as vitamin C, consuming the powdered sweetener products made from the fruit's juice does not supply any micronutrients.

Health Benefits

Monk fruit contains the natural sugars that many other fruits contain—mainly fructose and glucose. But the intense sweetness actually comes from a different compound, a type of glycoside called mogroside. Glycoside is just another name for a type of simple sugar compound. Mogrosides are a unique antioxidant extracted from the glycoside in monk fruit.

Does Not Affect Blood Sugar

Since monk fruit sweetener doesn’t have calories or sugar, it won’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels. However, when choosing monk fruit products, make sure to check the ingredients label—many products and sweetener blends may still contain sugar or other ingredients that can affect blood glucose.

May Have Healing Effects in Cancer Patients

A study published in the journal Oncogenesis in 2016 reported that when mogroside V obtained from monk fruit was administered in both in vitro and in vivo pancreatic cancer models, it promoted cancer cell apoptosis (cellular death) and “cell cycle arrest,” possibly through the interruption of cancer cell communication.

Additionally, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggested that the anti-inflammatory properties of Momordica grosvenori, another variation of monk fruit, have anticancer and antidiabetic effects.

May Promote Weight Loss

Despite its super-sweet taste, the body metabolizes monk fruit differently than it metabolizes table sugar. Research has shown that using low-calorie sweeteners can lead to moderate weight loss, but these studies did not focus specifically on monk fruit.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

The same substance that gives monk fruit its sweetness is the one that holds its anti-inflammatory properties. The mogrosides in monk fruit show promise for inhibiting the growth of harmful cells and preventing chronic disease.

Allergies

As with any food, there is a risk of allergy with monk fruit, but the lack of proteins in the sweetener make this unlikely. However, allergies to another natural sugar substitute, stevia, have been reported.

Adverse Effects

There are currently no known side effects of monk fruit or monk fruit extract. The fruit is on the Food and Drug Administration’s list of “generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) substances. It's considered safe for everyone, including pregnant women and children.

One animal study on the effects of monk fruit on the body showed no toxic effects. In the study, subjects were given large amounts of luo han guo extract (more than you could probably consume by using monk fruit products), and no negative effects were observed.

However, because monk fruit is relatively new to grocery store shelves, there isn’t any research on the effects of long-term use of monk fruit or monk fruit products. And as with all products you consume, be sure to monitor your individual response to monk fruit sweetener. If you experience an adverse reaction, it’s probably best to stop using monk fruit.

Varieties

Typically, monk fruit is sold in powdered form, like sugar. You may also find it as a liquid, sometimes combined with stevia or a sugar alcohol. Here's how monk fruit sweetener compares to other sweeteners and sugar substitutes.

Monk Fruit vs. Sugar

Monk fruit extract can be anywhere from 150 to 250 times sweeter than table sugar, but it has zero calories, doesn’t raise blood sugar, provides antioxidants, and may help with weight loss.

Monk Fruit vs. Nonnutritive Sweeteners

Most nonnutritive sugar substitutes, such as sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, and acesulfame-potassium, can cause side effects like gas, bloating, or allergic reactions. There aren’t any known side effects of monk fruit.

Monk Fruit vs. Sugar Alcohols

Many people prefer sugar alcohols over nonnutritive sweeteners because they seem more "natural." Common sugar alcohols include xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol, and erythritol. While they are organic compounds derived from sugars, many sugar alcohols cause digestive issues (in certain people) that are more signficant than those caused by some nonnutritive sweeteners.

Monk Fruit vs. Stevia

Stevia has many of the same benefits as monk fruit: zero calories, carbohydrates, and sugars. Stevia leaves contain substances known as steviol glycosides, which are estimated to be 200 to 400 times sweeter than table sugar.

The main differences between stevia and monk fruit are cost and availability. Stevia sweeteners are typically more widely available and less expensive than monk fruit sweeteners because monk fruit is difficult to harvest.

Storage and Food Safety

Read package labels to confirm, but usually, you can store monk fruit powder in the zip-top bag you purchased it in (often in the refrigerator).

How to Prepare

Monk fruit is mainly used as an alternative sweetener. You can add monk fruit extract or a monk fruit sweetener blend to almost anything, including:

  • Coffee
  • Hot tea or iced tea
  • Sauces
  • Smoothies
  • Desserts
  • Yogurt
  • Oatmeal

When baking, some cooks replace only half the sugar in the recipe with monk fruit. But it is best to use a well-tested recipe when using any sugar substitute.

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